My dear Nicholas,
It probably isn't fair of me to run off to fight a war right after
trying to set your entire life on a new path. Doubly unfair of me to be
killed or taken by the enemy, as must have happened if you are reading
this. But, as you know well, life is unfair as all hell. I'm going to
try to describe why I did what I did, in the hopes that I can derive from
it one final lesson for you in the most important art of all: being the
sort of person you want to be.
I have a thing about the use of force. I like it very little.
When you deal with a person peacefully, trading something they want for
something you want, both of you benefit. Using force, whoever has the
upper hand gets what they want, and the other guy gets nothing. Sooner or
later the little guy probably gets killed, either because he tried to
protect himself or because he couldn't obtain food and shelter anymore.
Being subject to constant attacks will do that.
Now expand that theory to our lives. Everyone has something
useful - any one of us has useful skills, powerful ideas. And we all have
a vulnerability - nobody is the best in every arena of combat. So if the
world is ruled by force, we all stand to lose.
That kind of world has one weakness - you can't use force to
create things. Once you've bashed all the people with useful arts, you're
left with nothing. A world based on force can last only if the people who
can create are cowed and stop fighting back, if they decide to create
willingly for the guys with the big axes.
That's the one thing I won't do. If anyone raises a finger
against me or mine, I will go as far as I have to in order to end it.
That means that even if the timing is wrong, even if I'd much rather not,
sometimes I have to get into a fight.
You may resent that I did that, and you might even be right. Some
would say that I should place my family higher. My feeling is that
letting you grow up in the wrong kind of world is no favor. But as you
get older you can make those decisions for yourself, and I believe you
will make the right ones.
My message to you is this: While you learn how to fight, think
also on when you will fight. Know who you want to be and what you believe
If you decide that some things are worth dying for, make yourself
ready to die for them - in the most effective way possible, doing as much
damage as possible to your enemy. That way you will not be found wanting
when the time comes.
If you feel that nothing is worth dying over, you must make sure
to avoid making lethal enemies, or making promises you won't survive
Above all, you must be an honest man to yourself and others. To
be useful, to be able to do something positive to use as currency for the
efforts of others, you must know what you are, what you want, and what you
can pay with. Little good will come to you if you fail in these three
I am not worried. You are a marvelously bright person, Nicholas,
and there is no chance that you will fail to be what you set out to be. I
ask only that you choose wisely. Once you are fully grown, it becomes
impossible to change your mind.
Whatever may become of you, whatever has become of me,
you have always and will always have my love.
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